Purdue files for bankruptcy as states claim Sacklers are hiding money

The OxyContin-maker filed for bankruptcy as part of a proposed $10-$12 billion deal.
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Tesla shares fall as electric pickup truck competition heats up
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Listen to Episode 26 of ‘Blue Rush’: Kobe Bryant Tribute, Super Bowl 2020 Preview feat. Jerome Bettis
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C-SPAN Is So Hot Right Now
People across America turn to it regularly. It’s getting lovingly roasted on late-night television. It’s going viral on YouTube with sizzling footage of Jerry Nadler talking two decades ago.C-SPAN is so hot right now. And that’s a symptom of something gone deeply wrong.The fact that so many people want to watch Congress’s activity points to just how disturbing and dysfunctional the current political era is. A perhaps surprising number of politicians are totally charisma-free, on-screen and off. Even though it’s their job to check the rest of the government and spend taxpayer money, no one necessarily wants to watch them do it hour after stultifying hour.But C-SPAN has been watching for more than 40 years now—and judging by the growing share of its videos with 1 million or more views, its expanding subscription base on YouTube, and the hundreds of thousands who have tuned into its impeachment live-stream, a still-modest but ever larger number of Americans want in too. The United States under Donald Trump has seen an unusually high number of buzzy hearings, with James Comey versus Senate Intel becoming required viewing at bars in Washington, D.C; Michael Cohen versus House Intel streaming from countless cubicle laptops; and Robert Mueller versus House Judiciary getting obsessively analyzed for entertainment value—as if a congressional witness is supposed to scintillate. This is salutary civic engagement, maybe, but it’s not a sign that the government is working well.[Read: The solemn absurdity of Trump’s impeachment trial]Because there’s nothing entertaining about public servants doing their job properly—and when that’s what’s on C-SPAN, for most people it isn’t hot. It’s just how things are supposed to work and what citizens have a right to expect. It’s the breakdowns, the partisan rancor, the malfeasance, and the mismanagement that make for must-see TV. In normal times, a qualified ambassador’s Latin-laced testimony about foreign-aid disbursement would be of interest mainly to nerds, professionals, and professional nerds. Instead, Americans devoured Gordon Sondland’s “explosive” account of a Ukraine-aid quid pro quo.And a network that insists on airing entire hearings in full, without the talking-head chatter and screaming chyrons of cable news, is at the center of the action. When I visited C-SPAN last week, everyone I asked about the network’s reputation for dullness seemed used to the critique—and either resigned to or fully in on the joke. The day before I caught up with him at the network’s office, Jeremy Art, C-SPAN’s social-media senior specialist, had tweeted a bit from the talk-show host Stephen Colbert about late-night impeachment arguments. (The tagline: “Indulge your impeachment fantasies with C-SPAN3 After Dark.”) I later spotted the political editor Steve Scully hunched over a desk, watching a Conan O’Brien skit from the previous night on his phone. (In it, an argyle-sweatered control-room boss amps up the C-SPAN team: “Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump: This is our goddamn Super Bowl, okay?”)In his office, C-SPAN’s communications director, Howard Mortman, dug up another O’Brien clip to show me, from the 1995 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, as Nadler’s face beamed from four different screens next to him, each showing the action on the Senate floor. It’s Mortman’s favorite C-SPAN joke: “I have an announcement for those of you watching tonight’s event live on C-SPAN. For God’s sake, it’s Saturday night! Go outside, meet a woman. Come on!”The irony of this being C-SPAN’s moment is that its cameras aren’t actually in the Senate chamber right now, and neither are any other news-media cameras. C-SPAN can and does cover every grimace and rant of House and Senate hearings—complete with speaker shots, reaction shots, witness shots, milling-about shots in committee rooms—but debates and votes on the actual floors of the House and Senate are a different matter. With rare exceptions, such as the State of the Union address, the House and Senate operate their own cameras in the chamber, with C-SPAN and other news outlets picking up the footage.To hear C-SPANners tell it, the cinematography is lacking—and they could do it so much better. “We would love to be able to show the reactions of senators as they are listening to arguments,” Ben O’Connell, C-SPAN’s managing editor, told me. “We would’ve loved to have been able to show as each senator stood up and took their oath.” The point is not just aesthetic, but philosophical too. “We believe that it’s very important that journalists are behind the camera and deciding what people see in the room and how they see it, rather than the government,” O’Connell said.What the millions watching can’t see is just as revealing about the process as what they can. When Representative Adam Schiff launched into the second hour of his opening arguments in Trump’s impeachment trial one day last week, you could see him taking sips of water between reflections on abuse of office, George Washington crossing the Delaware, and the wise words of Benjamin Franklin. You couldn’t see what the New York Daily News reporter Michael McAuliff spotted and tweeted about from the press gallery: 21 empty seats on the GOP side and two on the Democratic side. The Senate cameras do offer Americans the benefit of hearing the arguments on impeachment, but they give no indication about how seriously lawmakers are taking them—or by extension, their responsibility to act as jury members.C-SPAN pushed for floor access to the impeachment proceedings, but neither Democratic leadership in the House nor Republican leadership in the Senate welcomed its cameras—even though the value of the network is a rare patch of bipartisan agreement on the Hill. (As for the impeachment hearings in the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees last year, the network had seven cameras in place—including a tiny camera on a pole in the corner for a wide shot of each room.) C-SPAN’s appeal to the Senate, in the context of other press restrictions, prompted a New York Times headline declaring that “even C-SPAN” was “piqued.”[Buckner F. Melton Jr.: No wonder the impeachment trial is such a mess]O’Connell would neither confirm nor deny any such state of pique, but he did say that C-SPAN journalists have requested floor access multiple times since turning on their cameras in 1979. Those efforts have pretty much always failed, with the exception of a recent documentary. For that, the Senate let them film partly from the floor, though the lawmakers had to pass a resolution to allow the cameras in. Brian Lamb, who founded the network and retired from it last year, recalled fighting in vain for floor access during Bill Clinton’s impeachment too. “We were running down a blind alley into a dead end,” he told me.Politicians “really don’t understand television,” Lamb added, lamenting their need to control how they’re seen. “They understand that it can damage them.”And it has. When he was House speaker in the 1990s, Newt Gingrich also refused to let C-SPAN cameras onto the floor, though he did let House camera operators experiment with reaction shots, according to Chad Pergram, a Fox News congressional correspondent who previously worked at C-SPAN. “That experiment lasted about a week as the House feed showed lawmakers dozing, goofing off and reading,” Pergram wrote in a column for Fox News. “Callers then lit up the Capitol switchboard as they phoned to admonish their lawmakers for not showing respect to the speaker or accusing them of sloughing off on the taxpayer's dime.” (Gingrich then backed off to let them do so in private.)One can almost sympathize with their anxiety. Politicians work for the public, and who wants their boss watching them all the time? But if you’re the boss, you presumably want to know that the person whose salary you pay is, say, following company policy and showing up to meetings. That’s especially important right now, when those very employees keep saying that the fate of the entire country is at stake in their deliberations.A properly functioning government is one that the average citizen has the luxury to ignore rather than think about, much less spend hours watching tear itself apart. But the government isn’t functioning properly these days—in ways that long precede Trump and impeachment—and the extent of its failures should actually make C-SPAN even hotter than it is right now. Mortman said that well before The Washington Post’s Afghanistan Papers series exposed how officials kept expressing optimism about the war in public while panning it in private, C-SPAN had aired hundreds of hearings on the matter, dating back to 2001, in which much of the series’ revelations could have been gleaned. From fiscal mismanagement to bungled wars, politicians aren’t succeeding enough anymore to give Americans the luxury of boredom. And they’ve been failing in plain sight, in front of the cameras. Americans may be tuning in too late.
How Pop’s Biggest Weirdo Swept the Grammys
Billie Eilish scarfs spiders, scowls at cameras, and sings about murdering all her friends. She wears sneakers scrawled with the words “FUCK U,” and she makes music with dental-drill noises. She’s a creep; she’s a weirdo. What the hell is she doing here, on the Grammys stage, as the consensus pick for the music biz’s masses?The 18-year-old Eilish took five of the six trophies she was nominated for last night, including all of the “Big Four” awards: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, and Best New Artist. (Her 22-year-old brother Finneas O’Connell, who produces and co-writes her songs, shared in the Big Four and won two awards of his own). The only other time someone swept the general categories was in 1981, when the ultra-soft and now-obscure rocker Christopher Cross bested Pink Floyd’s The Wall in a year when Prince’s Dirty Mind and the Clash’s London Calling weren’t even nominated. Cross’s milestone is now often referenced to demonstrate how uncool the Grammys are, and Eilish would seem a much hipper pick. (Her songs are not about yachts, to start). But for all her supposed edge, there’s safety in her sweep.After years of mounting anger toward the Grammys for feting blockbuster wedding singers over innovators, this year’s nominations had a genuinely thrilling class of popular rebels. The whimsical rap-country of Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” which broke Billboard chart records in its 19-week run at No. 1, seemed a lock for Record of the Year. The empowering rap-singing of Lizzo was a plausible winner in all general categories, alongside Eilish’s rappish whisper-pop. “We want to be shifting to realness and inclusivity,” the host Alicia Keys said in a musical monologue (don’t ask) that made the evening’s only nod to ousted Grammys CEO Deborah Dugan’s recent account of sexism, racism, and corruption at the Recording Academy. A diverse slate of winners in the general field might have signaled the very shift that Keys crooned about.Instead, Eilish beat all. This is not quite undeserving: She is a clever talent who made an addictively distinct album, and she used her performance slot last night for a lovely ballad that showcased her singing ability. She is also a young, willful woman who refuses the sexualized template and cookie-cutter sound that the music industry has foisted onto other young, willful women in the past. But the totality of her sweep hints that her acclaim owes not only to her significant artistic ingenuity. She has positioned herself to have multi-quadrant and oddly traditionalist appeal. She is also well-connected, popular, and white, and those things still trump most else at the Grammys.Certainly the music-industry establishment has a lot riding on her. The myth of her fame is that she blew up from a single slice of bedroom pop uploaded to Soundcloud; the truth is that managers and marketers affiliated with major labels and streaming services glommed on very early in her career and opened pathways that few others are able to access. If her songs and performance style weren’t arresting, such access would have been meaningless. But working with O’Connell, she made the most of early features on Apple’s Beats 1 and on late-night TV. Her and her brother’s ease on camera and on mic had been, on some level, honed by their upbringing as the home-schooled kids of two working actors in Los Angeles.Eilish’s shtick is a patchwork stitch of influences, and the most important of them might be hip-hop. Rap culture informs her oversized track suits, her way of speaking, her rat-a-tat vocal delivery, and the trap percussion of her songs; she has been quick to praise hip-hop and work with emcees. Rap, however, doesn’t usually fare well at the Grammys. Hip-hop has generated only two Album of the Year winners ever, and some of the most ingenious black artists have only been rewarded in genre-specific categories rather than the general ones (for more details, here’s Tyler the Creator speaking ambivalently last night about his Best Rap Album win for an album that didn’t sound very much like rap.) Eilish is able to swipe influences from America’s most popular genre without taking a prestige hit or getting pigeon-holed.That’s because her whiteness allows her to be perceived as belonging to genres more “respectable” to masses of Grammys voters. Though there are few guitars in her songs, Dave Grohl has called her the future of rock and roll, and at the American Music Awards, she was named Favorite Artist – Alternative Rock. The “rock” of her identity mostly comes down to a chain-laden and heavy-lidded image that recalls a lineage stretching through Sid Vicious and Garbage’s Shirley Manson. Race is clearly part of this image. The rappers Travis Scott and Lil Uzi Vert have a similar fashion sense to Eilish, and their music overtly interpolates rock. But they are culturally consumed, primarily, as hip-hop artists, with little chance at earning a top prize at the Grammys.The ways in which Eilish appeals to the Grohls of the world also allows her to triumph over other white female artists who are written off as “pop princesses.” Eilish’s thumping hit “Bad Guy” sits in the same radio rotations as artists like Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, and Ariana Grande, none of whom has won a general-category Grammy. Eilish’s hint of disaffection—indulging in pop but also being too bad for it—presumably allows her to sidestep the sexism that attends to such artists. Accepting one of their many awards last night, O’Connell made a case for the capital-i Importance of their songs: “We wrote an album about depression and suicidal thoughts and climate change and being the bad guy… whatever that means.” It is true there is a flintiness and substance to Eilish’s work, but the same could be said for Grande’s Thank U, Next, an Album of the Year nominee steeped in anxious, real-talk themes.The jarring thing about Eilish’s domination at the Grammys is that it calls her misfit status—that aesthetic pose so crucial to her cross-category success—into question. But she is a savvy game player; she knows it’s not cool to become the overdog. She mouthed “please don’t be me” before her fifth prize was announced, and her speeches were shot through with embarrassment. After winning Album of the Year, she said the award should have gone to Thank U, Next. For Best New Artist, she jokingly anticipated backlash while addressing the runners up: “I know your fans are hardcore, and they’re going to fight for you guys, and they love you, and they’re going to talk shit about me for years because of this.” Sure enough, #scammys is now trending thanks to the supporters of snubbed artists. It’s a term Eilish herself might laugh along with, appreciating the irony of the fact that someone so fresh-faced and seemingly different has now become the mascot for very old complaints.
Romney on Bolton testimony: 'It's relevant and therefore I'd like to hear it'
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Fox News wasted no time spinning the John Bolton revelations in the most Trump-friendly way
Trump and John Bolton in the White House in August. | Alex Wong/Getty Images It was amazingly predictable. It’s also misleading. Faced with the news that President Trump’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s new book includes anaccount that undercuts one of Trump’s central impeachment defenses, Fox News and the Trump-supporting Republicans who regularly appear on it went all-in on smearing him as a greedy and disgruntled former aide who only wants sell more copies. Take host Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who joined Monday’s edition of Fox & Friends and said, “The timing is a little interesting, isn’t it?” This particularly talking point was utterly foreseeable — I predicted on Sunday night that it would get heavy play on Fox News. But it illustrates the extent to which Trumpworld is relying on ad hominem attacks and misleading deflection instead of trying to justify the president’s actions on the merits. Trump’s legal team argued during Saturday’s installment of the impeachment trial that the administration’s hold up of military aid to Ukraine was predicated on good-faith concerns about rooting out corruption in the country, not his desire for political favors. This talking point is absurd, coming as it does on behalf of arguably the most personally corrupt president in modern American history, and it ignores that the administration didn’t go through the proper channels to orchestrate the holdup. But it has at least given Trump cover to deny that his Ukraine scheme was motivated by selfish political interests. Very simple! I was looking for Corruption and also why Germany, France and others in the European Union don’t do more for Ukraine. Why is it always the USA that does so much and puts up so much money for Ukraine and other countries? By the way, the Bidens were corrupt!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2019 Bolton’s book draft, however, undercuts that defense. The New York Times reported on Sunday that in it, Bolton details how Trump directly communicated to him during a meeting in August that aid wouldn’t be released “until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens.” Democrats responded by reiterating their calls for Bolton to testify, noting that his account “directly contradicts the heart of the President’s impeachment defense.” Trump responded by denying the conversation that Bolton details ever happened. And his spin machine got busy smearing Bolton as greedy — and worse. In a string of tweets in which he basically called Bolton a liar, Trump also impugned his motives, saying Bolton is only coming forward now “to sell a book.” That talking point dominated Fox News’s Monday morning programming. steve doocy keeps joking that john bolton's book is "available for presale on amazon" to suggest he's just making shit up to sell books, except by making those jokes he's also helping bolton sell books. i, for example, did not know the book was on presale until steve said so.— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) January 27, 2020 Over on Fox Business, Maria Bartiromo also used this talking point, accusing Bolton — a former Fox News contributor — of trying “to sell a book.” But it wasn’t just the Fox hosts. Sen. John Hawley (R-MO) went on Fox & Friends for an interview and noted that Bolton’s book “is apparently on sale for preorder today too, so it’s certainly going to sell a lot of books,” and incorrectly described Bolton’s account as “a bunch of hearsay.” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham joined as well and demeaned Bolton’s publisher as “the same publisher that [former FBI Director James] Comey used,” adding, “the timing is very suspect.” (Grisham’s claim is incorrect — Comey’s book was published by Macmillan while Bolton’s is being published by Simon & Schuster.) But perhaps the most outlandish spin came from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who serves on Trump’s impeachment defense team and went as far as to smear Bolton — a Republican who worked for multiple Republican presidents — as a Democrat. “Coming out at this late hour is a kinda typical move from the Democrats,” he said. Jim Jordan, on Fox & Friends, on Bolton's book: "This coming out at this late hour is a kinda typical move from the Democrats." (Bolton is a Republican who has worked for multiple Republican presidents.)— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 27, 2020 The irony of the situation is that it is the White House, not Bolton, that appears to be responsible for the timing of news of Bolton’s book draft breaking just days before senators will vote on whether to compel him to testify. The Times reports the White House was first sent a copy of the draft last month, weeks after Trump told reporters he’d “love” for his top aides to testify during his Senate trial. Bolton’s lawyer blamed the White House for leaking about it. To be clear, the timing of Bolton’s book is certainly a fair topic of criticism. Even if Bolton felt compelled to comply with the White House’s directive against testifying, there was nothing stopping him from going public about what happened during the August meeting much sooner, when it could’ve been of use to the House impeachment inquiry. But accusing him of just trying to goose book sales isn’t a strong attack on his credibility, especially considering that his account is consistent with the timeline of the aid holdup set forth in the testimony of other administration aides, including Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland. Trump’s credibility, meanwhile, can be inferred from the fact that other tweets he posted about the Bolton book contained blatant lies (he claimed House Democrats “never even asked Bolton to testify,” but they did and were rebuffed by the White House) and misleading claims (he urged people to “READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!” even though the White House call summary of his July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky contains evidence of the corrupt quid pro quo Bolton describes). Meanwhile, as Fox world attempted to portray the Bolton book as a nothingburger, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said on Monday morning that he believes it’s “increasingly likely” that four Republicans will vote along with Democrats to compel Bolton’s testimony. “I can’t begin to tell you how John Bolton’s testimony would ultimately play on a final decision but it’s relevant. And therefore, I’d like to hear it,” Romney told CNN. The news moves fast. To stay updated, follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter, and read more of Vox’s policy and politics coverage.
CIF Southern Section Council meeting will discuss new football playoff proposal
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